Jan. 17, 2016
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By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — A game-changing 12-0 second-half run sent the 16th-ranked University of Iowa men’s basketball team to an 82-71 victory over Michigan on Sunday afternoon on Mediacom Court inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The win moves Iowa to 5-0 in Big Ten Conference play for the first time since 1997; the Hawkeyes are 14-3 overall — the best start of UI head coach Fran McCaffery‘s tenure in Iowa City. Iowa has won 11 consecutive Big Ten regular season games dating back to last season — the longest streak since the 1969-70 season.
Iowa pushed a five-point halftime lead to eight points at the start of the second half before Michigan erased the deficit and grabbed the lead with 15:24 remaining. Zac Irvin banked home a jumper from the free throw line, was fouled, and converted a three point play to give the Wolverines a 49-47 lead.
Sophomore Dom Uhl’s jumper and two Mike Gesell free throws put Iowa back on top, 51-49, with 12:46 to play before Michigan guard Aubrey Dawkins drained a 3-pointer from the corner, giving the Wolverines a 52-51 advantage.
Uhl put Iowa back on top for good 18 seconds later with a layup, a field goal that ignited a 12-0 run with three reserves on the floor. Senior Anthony Clemmons and junior Peter Jok capped the run with back-to-back 3-pointers to make the score 63-52 with 8:55 to play.
“You have to be ready with whoever you have on the floor,” said Clemmons. “Our bench helped us and gave us confidence. Guys that started were one of the loud voices telling us to bring us home, to give us a good two or three minutes, and give it all you have. The guys that came in — Ahmad (Wagner), (Nicholas) Baer, Dom — they all played tremendous.”
“It’s interesting when the game unfolds you never know what lineup is going to be on the floor when you make your run,” said McCaffery. “Once they started clicking the way they did, I just leave them in. We were extending the lead and I was resting people that I am going to need for the stretch run.”
Michigan cut the lead to eight with 6:52 remaining on a Derrick Walton, Jr., 3-pointer, but Uhl answered with a 3-ball 27 seconds later. Walton, Jr., then made two free throws to get the Wolverines to within nine with six to play, but Uthoff’s 3-pointer extended the margin to 12 with 5:42 remaining.
The Wolverines tried to make one final push, cutting the lead to six with 3:45 left on back-to-back 3-pointers from Dawkins and five points (73-68) on a Walton, Jr., 3-pointer with 2:56 to go. Jok sealed the win with a 3-pointer — his fourth of the game and Iowa’s seventh of the second half — giving Iowa an eight point lead with 2 1/2 minutes to go.
“We expected Michigan to keep coming,” said McCaffery. “The key is to keep coming down and give yourself a chance. We hit some key shots — Clemmons had a big 3, Peter was on fire, Uthoff hit some big shots, and Dom Uhl (was outstanding).”
Uthoff led all scorers, finishing with 23 points on 9-of-20 shooting, while Jok made 6-of-11 field goals and four 3-pointers en route to a 16-point afternoon — 14 coming in the second half. Senior Adam Woodbury scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds, and Uhl scored 10 points, making 4-of-6 field goals and both 3-point attempts.
“I wasn’t shooting well in the first half,” said Jok. “Coach (Andrew) Francis told me I needed to have a big second half, so I came out more aggressive.”
Gesell and Clemmons combined for nine points, 13 assists, and two turnovers in 63 minutes.
“Iowa has a lot of things teams would love to have — four seniors and a junior who has stayed the course,” said Michigan head coach John Beilein. “What really separated them right now is their bench play. They have guys coming in off the bench and making plays.”
The Hawkeyes shot 55.6 percent in the second half and 50.8 percent for the game. Iowa made 10 3-pointers (in 22 attempts) to shoot 45.5 percent and converted 10-of-11 free throws. Iowa assisted on 19 of its 31 field goals and committed just four turnovers.
Michigan shot 46.3 percent for the game and went 10-of-28 from 3-point distance. The Wolverines coughed the ball up 13 times, which led to a 16-6 Iowa advantage in points off of turnovers. Four Michigan players reached double digits with Walton, Jr., leading the team with 16 points and six assists.
Iowa came out of the gates like a gangbuster, hitting its first four shots to storm out to an 11-0 lead over the first two minutes of the game. The Hawkeyes led 20-8 on a Nicholas Baer jumper at the 11:23 mark before the Wolverines made their move.
Michigan used a 13-0 run to take its first lead, 21-20, on a D.J. Wilson dunk with 8:11 left in the first half.
The Hawkeyes responded, regaining the lead on an Ahmad Wagner layup and Uthoff followed with a three-point play to make the score 25-21. Iowa built its lead back to nine (35-26) behind back-to-back field goals from Adam Woodbury, the first coming on a steal and two-handed slam that made the score 33-26 with 3:40 to go.
Iowa returns to action Thursday, heading to Piscataway, New Jersey, for a matchup against Rutgers (6-12, 0-5).
“I’ve coached in leagues before where you could bring less than your best and beat the bottom teams,” said McCaffery. “(In this league), anything less than your best and you’re going to get beat every time. You cannot coast against anybody in this league.”